He is still up there
I walked out of the wholesaler furious at the situation I found there
staff standing around with nothing to do, empty shelves and a sense of
desolation. What on earth do these idiots in Government think they are
doing? I asked myself. I decided to walk over the road and see the
Director, an old friend, to ask him what they are going to do - it
obvious to all but the blind, that they were going down the tubes. An
business with a proud record of service to the community.
Arriving at reception the man who answers the phone and directs
reading his Bible. Not much else to do I thought. I greeted him and
the MD was in his office. He said he was out - but I could see his
secretary. I said no she could not really help me with the issue I
I then asked him what they were going to do about the collapse of the
business. Receptionists are like taxi drivers - they know everything.
response to me with a broad smile was 'He is still up there!!' At
though he was saying the MD was upstairs and then I suddenly realized
saying God is still 'up there' and if that was the case we should
just trust in Him.
I felt as if I had been hit with a pole. How could I be so stupid as to
think that we could actually do something about this self-inflicted
I had let my faith slip, given in to despair and just wanted to vent my
spleen on another victim. I walked back to my car and resolved to trust
and to 'walk by faith and not by sight'. Nothing had changed, but I
better and went on to scour the City for product eventually dispatching
substantial load to the store, which was sold out in 24 hours. We are
but not out and we are not going to let these evil people win.
Yesterday I had to speak to the staff in our factory here in Bulawayo.
first met with the Workers Committee and then with the entire staff -
no electricity so they were all idle and we lost no production. They
worked for us for more than 15 years, many are known to me personally
have been through some tough times when nobody thought the company
survive. Business is like that - our main concern is not profit,
it's how to
stay in business and ahead of the myriad of problems that confront
Just a month ago we had a full order book and looked as if we were set
good year. Then came the price control exercise 'the neutron bomb
and we lost every order that we had from local customers. Major firms
unable to take delivery of product and they called to freeze any
production. We slowed down and then stopped operations - sent
on paid leave for a week and then another week and finally tried to
on half time.
When you are a low paid industrial worker, any loss of earnings poses
immediate crisis. They have no savings to fall back on and no
sources of income. Workers in Zimbabwe are already struggling under a
that has reduced their real earnings by 90 per cent in a decade. So
latest crisis was not long in impacting on our staff and their
I explained that operation Neutron Bomb was designed to bankrupt all
companies and force them to either sell out to the State, or to sell a
majority holding to individuals approved by the State - it was
extend Zanu control to the entire economy so that they could control
residual population and dictate how they would vote in the next
Never underestimate the wisdom and understanding of the poor. They know
is going on and in many cases appreciate the implications well before
better off do. They listened intently to what I had to say and then we
discussed our survival strategy. We talked about how we might find food
them and their families, what they needed, what we might do from a
point of view, what sales were trying to do to get orders and to see
new products we could put out to avoid the price controls that were
to cripple us financially.
We then said that they would have to go home for another week but come
on the 20th when we expected that we would be able to resume production
full pay. An act of faith if ever there was one! But I said we all had
play our role, if we got an order, lets get it out fast and to the
satisfaction of the client. Lets work together to defeat this monster
midst so that we might be able to play our part in the eventual
reconstruction of this country.
Nearly all our workers are MDC - we have some Zanu PF stalwarts in
midst, but they are a minority, unable to let go of the fact that their
Party brought us to independence. Even these faithful now feel let down
Zanu PF and are watching and waiting to see what will happen, they know
nightmare cannot go on for much longer. One asked me plaintively -
MDC gets into power, won't they be the same as Zanu?' This caused
laughter and I did not answer because I think he knows what I think
that possibility. It could happen, as in Zambia, but at least if we
our democracy we can throw the new regime out with a simple vote.
Yesterday I stood in a queue with an elderly Ndebele women. We got
and she said to me - not knowing whom I was, that 'we at least have
the mistake of fighting.' We have chosen the right road, the road for
back to sanity and recovery lies through peaceful, democratic elections
a legal transfer of power. Lets not let go of that route, it is the
one and we will eventually win through and in the meantime trust God to
provide our daily bread. He is still up there!!
9th August 2007